Democracy’s Purple Finger

Sometimes, what doesn’t happen is more important than what does. And sometimes not. Sometimes experience supplies the necessary context to know which things to leave out and which to include in your strategy. A simple version might be “know when to hold ’em and know when to fold ’em.”

On the topic of elections in the Middle East, you know the drill by now: first the received wisdom said that the Middle East wasn’t ‘ready’ for consensual government. Then they said it wasn’t ready right now, that January was much too soon to allow elections in Iraq. Then they said… oh, never mind. You know only too well what they said, droning on and on predictably as the crowd thinned and tip-toed away, leaving only the ghosts of the Empire’s colonial governors as audience.

All the blather about Bush’s lack of nuance, his bull-in-a-china-shop diplomacy, his cowboy idiocy. All the secret novenas murmured by the Left, praying for failure and death and destruction just to make themselves right. And now here comes…

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, deciding by fiat that there will be multiple-candidate elections in his country. And why? Was it the Iraqi elections? Was it the Syrian-mandated madness in Lebanon? Was it because the Secretary of State stood him up for their date with destiny? Who’s to say… perhaps it was the critical mass of all these events. Perhaps he’s hoping that his consensual-democracy-by-fiat will persuade Condoleezza to show up in those boots.

Whatever the reason, change is in the air. It can no more be stopped than can the sweet clean air of Spring when April sweeps in…

May the Egyptians share the glory of the purple-fingered fate of freedom.

Surely God has a sense of humor? A finger dipped in purple ink? Ukraine dressed in orange? Let us just say that there will be more colors to come. Let us just say that God was not a decorator in His former life.

Whatever her dress, Democracy has arrived, a bit shabby and out of breath, in the Purple — I mean Fertile — Crescent.

         The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it

                — Omar Khayyam

Read ’em and weep, Saddam.